Former federal cabinet minister Jason Kenney has officially launched his bid for the leadership of Alberta’s new United Conservative Party by promising to stand up to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
It’s Kenney’s second entry into a leadership contest in a year, he won the leadership of Alberta Progressive Conservatives on a campaign of merging the party with the opposition Wildrose.
Kenney told supporters in Calgary Saturday that he would take a different approach to leadership than Trudeau.
“He seems to think that Canada 150 is all about apologizing for our past. Well, he could not be more wrong,” Kenney began his speech in Calgary.
“I believe — I know — that we have a proud identity rooted in our history.
“Canada 150 should be about gratitude for those who have gone before us, for those who have built this great country.”
Kenney joins former Wildrose leader Brian Jean, who is the only other candidate to officially launch his campaign. Conservative strategist Doug Schweitzer has expressed an intention to run.
The vote is to be held Oct. 28.
Kenney told the Calgary audience that he should “get his head examined” for running for leader twice in a year, but said the process was necessary. He said a leader is needed who has “consistent conservative convictions,” who also has the political skills to unite the new party while reaching out to broaden its support.
He noted that during his time as a federal Conservative, the party doubled its support among new Canadians and that he would do the same as leader of the new provincial party.
Kenney began his mission to unite the Alberta PCs and Opposition Wildrose last July, with a tour of the province in a pickup truck to gauge support and promote the idea. He later secured the PC leadership on a pledge to merge with Wildrose, and the idea was endorsed by the memberships of both parties in separate votes last weekend.
Jean launched his own campaign Monday and has called for Albertans to get a vote on photo radar. He has also promised to give voters the power to recall members of the legislature.
Kenney, meanwhile, quoted Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan on the pitfalls of socialism. He also criticized the province’s changes to the school curriculum, pointing out a new social studies program outline is “predictably riddled with politically correct themes like colonialism and oppression and climate change.”
“Not to say that we shouldn’t teach some of those things but how about some balance?” Kenney asked the audience in Calgary.
“For me, here is the greatest scandal of this NDP government — their draft K-12 social studies curriculum does not include a single word about Canadian military history.”
The United Conservative Party was recognized Tuesday as the official Opposition by the Speaker of the legislature, with interim leader Nathan Cooper at its helm.
Kenney held up a letter during the announcement from Alberta chief electoral officer, which he said was signed on Thursday and recognizes UCP as an official party in Alberta.
“Hope is on the horizon,” Kenney said.